A day after an NYPD cop was found guilty on 6 counts of sexual assault, the saga continued as a mistrial moved forward on the remaining 4 counts.
Judge Richard Carruthers made the ruling Wednesday as the jury in the rape trial of former NYPD cop Michael Pena were hopelessly deadlocked on the first two charges of rape in the first-degree. The remaining two, corresponded with the first two.
Jurors in the Pena's trial returned a guilty verdict Tuesday for the criminal sex act charge, but on the key rape charge, appear to be bitterly deadlocked.
He was found guilty on 6 of 10 counts in the sexual assault of a 25-year-old school teacher. He now faces life in prison.
Deliberations which were described as highly contentious, found Pena guilty of sexually assaulting the victim on her way to work on August 19. The victim testified that he asked for directions to the train and then showed her a gun and said, "You're coming with me."
Pena then allegedly forced the woman at gunpoint down an alley and into a courtyard near her home in Inwood.
The victim testified Pena threatened to shoot her in the face if she opened her eyes or didn't cooperate. According to the victim, once the pair got to the courtyard behind a row of homes on Park Terrace West, "He forced himself into my mouth," adding that, "He told me to close my eyes or he would f------ shoot me."
He then proceeded to rape her over the course of approximately twenty minutes.
As the victim broke down in tears during testimony, she said that, "I didn't want to make any noise because I was afraid he was going to shoot me." In her words, "He never stopped."
Neighbors called 911 and screamed at Pena. He responded to one neighbor by saying that he was "almost done."
One neighbor who called 911, testified that the sex appeared, "joyless."
NYPD cops arrived on the scene and surprised Pena and the victim. According to the victim, Pena said, "Don't f------ do anything or I'll shoot you."
When the victim broke free, she screamed at the cops and yelled at them, "He has a gun and he raped me."
Officers realized Pena was a fellow officer when according to prosecutors he told them, "I'm already in cuffs, you don't need a 1085." Police jargon for back-up.
They found his badge in his pocket.
Prosecutors did charge Pena, a three year vet of the NYPD, with several counts of sexual assault.
The trial lasted one week with several witnesses for the prosecution including the neighbor who approached Pena in the courtyard. The neighbor, referred to as "skateboard guy" by another neighbor during testimony, was unable to finger Pena in court. The 27-year-old's appearance was much different from his arraignement in August.
Gone were approximately 50lbs. from his frame, his beard, and his short hair. Pena grew out his hair in anticipation of the trial.
Prosecutors also tried to paint the image of a sexual animal on the prowl for sex by proving that Pena was at restaurant and topless bar in the early morning hours of August 19, 2011 and he was captured trolling Craig's List with his smartphone for casual encounters.
The defense only presented one witness to the jury of seven men and five women, Pena's fiancée, Alma Rodriguez.
Rodriguez testified that she was an architect from the Dominican Republic, who had been engaged to Pena for five years.
When asked by Defense Attorney Ephraim Savitt if they had set a date, her response, "We didn't have a date set yet, because we were looking to get some money before we get married."
Rodriguez testified that in the evening before the attack, she had sex with Pena.
Surprising to many, as well as considering the charges the Manhattan DA's office hung on Pena, she also testified that she was still in love with him. Not once did she show emotion.
Prosecutor Evan Krutoy, who was disciplined and straightforward throughout, only cross-examined Rodriguez for less than a minute.
From the first day of the trial Pena's defense attorney Ephraim Savitt told PIX 11 news that his client was guilty of assault but not of rape and the lack of DNA proves it, "She is the victim of an assault. She is a victim of a sexual assault. She is not a victim of the charges with which my client has been indicted," said Savitt.
The defense appeared to have worked once the deliberations went past the weekend.
On Monday, the jury informed the judge that they had reached a verdict on six of the ten counts but were still undecided on two counts of first-degree rape. The decision on the two other counts were essentially placed on hold, since they were a reflection of the verdict rendered on the two counts of first-degree rape.
By this point, the jury seemed exhausted and it was obvious that there were battle lines drawn between some of them.
Prior to leaving the courtroom, Judge Richard Carruthers reminded them that the verdict is not final until read in open court.
On Tuesday morning, a juror met with the judge separately. It appeared as of there were issues that could not be resolved.
The tension built by the wait was evident on the faces of those not only supporting the victim, but also on the family of Pena. His father had been in court numerous times from his sons first appearance.
Shortly after 3 p.m. it was finally read.
The victim sat in the courtroom while the verdict was read. Her crying the only thing that pierced the silence in the courtroom.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun